BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS): 10:45 a.m. August 3, 2021 – After seven days of trial and hours of deliberation, the jury has returned a verdict of guilty on all counts in the trial of Richard Lee Chambers, Jr.
Chambers was arrested in Dec. of 2018 and charged in a 21-count indictment. Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Hatfield broke down the indictment, which included six counts of first-degree sexual assault, six counts of incest, one count of first-degree sexual abuse and seven counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person of trust.
Due to the violent nature of the crime and the age distinctions between the victim and the defendant, some of the charges will carry enhanced penalties.
If the sentences are maxed out and run consecutively with one another, Chambers is currently facing anywhere from 255 to 855 years of incarceration.
Following the verdict, Lootpress was able to speak with Hatfield, as well as Trooper Jillian Yeager, the case’s investigating officer.
Both Hatfield and Yeager spoke of the courage of the victim, who testified on Friday.
When Hatfield heard the verdict of guilty on all counts, he said he was relieved to know that this process has come to an end for the victim.
“…she is going to have some closure to the extent that the system ever gives closure to a victim,” he said. “She can note to herself that she was brave and that she stood up for herself. That’s what we tell our kids to do, and she came and told her story, and the system was able to give her the part of it that the system should.”
Yeager, like many in the courtroom, couldn’t fight tears as the jury announced its verdict.
“It’s been a long time coming. In all honesty, it took the bravery of one strong little girl.”
As they waited for the jury’s decision, Yeager said she felt nothing but peace.
“I felt at peace this entire process. I just had such faith in the jury that they would see the truth…and the truth came out.
“It’s a lot of emotions,” she continued. “Knowing that that little girl can get some closure and now start her very long healing process that she is going to have…Just knowing that for her to do one of the hardest things that a lot of adult women can’t even do, that little girl got up there and did in a courtroom full of strangers and told the worst thing that has ever happened to her in her life and did so with dignity and the fact that her doing that brought the suspect to justice- I mean that’s an emotion that…I couldn’t fight it.”
Chambers was taken into the custody of Southern Regional Jail following the verdict. Hatfield made a motion to revoke Chambers’ bond, which Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick granted.
Sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, October 13, 2021.
BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS): 2:30 p.m. August 2, 2021– After listening to closing arguments from counsel, the jury of 12 in the Richard Chambers trial is deliberating a verdict.
Chambers is charged in a 21-count indictment and is facing in excess of 200 years in prison if convicted. Charges include first-degree sexual assault, incest, first-degree sexual abuse and sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person of trust.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Hatfield began his closing arguments by reviewing the witnesses that have testified over the last week, including the victim.
“You see, we are here because the defendant from the time of January of 2014 to December 1 of 2018, systematically shaped and molded and manipulated who this little girl would be for the rest of her life,” Hatfield said, detailing the trust issues the young victim will face for the rest of her life.
“Now she’s experienced the day-to-day ripple effect that telling someone has had on her life.”
“This crime is not something that someone sees happen under closed doors,” he added. “It happens in the cloak of secrecy and in the shadows of darkness.”
While the state asked for a verdict of guilty on all counts, Chief Public Defender for Raleigh County Stacy Fragile asked for a verdict of not guilty on the basis that “there is no proof.”
Fragile invited the jury to remember that the victim was said to have been lying for months before the disclosure and has been caught lying to school counselors and therapists about details of her home life. She highlighted Monday morning’s witness, the victim’s counselor, Christel Moore, who testified that the child suffers from delusions and also pointed out inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony.
“We have an accuser whose story, if it were true, would and should have left proof,” Fragile said.
Throughout the week, the defense has continually stated the belief that the victim has been coached to accuse Chambers.
Hatfield concluded his argument by asking what the reward is for the victim to lie, detailing the humiliating and traumatic things the victim has had to go through since her disclosure.
Lootpress will update this story as the jury returns with a verdict.
BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOPTESS): 9 a.m. August 2, 2021– The trial of Richard Lee Chambers, Jr. resumed Monday morning in Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick’s courtroom. Prior to the defense calling its first witness to the stand, Chief Public Defender for Raleigh County Stacy Fragile informed the court that Chambers did not wish to testify.
The defense began by calling Christel Moore to the stand. Moore is a trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapist at Just For Kids Child Advocacy Center. Moore has been employed by Just For Kids since 2016, counseling children and families that have been affected by abuse.
Moore has acted as the victim’s therapist since December of 2018, shortly after the victim said to have been sexually abused by Chambers, her step-grandfather. For the last 32 months, Moore has provided on and off therapy sessions to the victim.
While questioning the witness, Fragile referenced therapy notes from multiple sessions in which the victim claimed that she was facing turmoil at home.
In her notes, Moore stated that her impression of the victim was that she was suffering from delusions and confabulations- going along with a fantasy of something that is in the mind. Moore explained that the delusions have caused the victim to formulate instances to make herself the victim in need of saving.
Fragile highlighted these “delusions” referring to the many times the victim has been caught in a lie; however, Moore told the court that what the victim is saying isn’t a lie to her because her perception is fragmented by these delusions.
Fragile asked if this turmoil at home would cause stress on the victim to which Moore answered yes.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Hatfield also highlighted these “delusions” but rather than inquire as to what the delusions were, he focused on why the victim was having these delusions.
Moore stated that these delusions stem from extensive trauma and exposure to a prolonged alternative lifestyle.
“When a child is exposed to an alternative lifestyle in their young age and that lifestyle is repeated the exposure becomes normalized in their psyche and conscious,” Moore said, adding that the victim’s individual trauma response, while different from that of another child, is a symptom of sexual abuse or sexual assault.
Having worked with more than 500 children, on Monday, Moore said the victim is the most “intricate, detailed and most severe response” that she has seen.
Hatfield also referenced Moore’s therapy notes, pointing to a specific session in which the victim recounted instances of her abuse. After Moore read the notes to the jury, she revealed that, in her professional opinion, this was not a delusion or confabulation and said that the victim gave her no reason to question her truthfulness, character or moral standpoint.
The defense rested its case Monday morning; Closing statements are expected to follow.
BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS): 1 p.m. July 30, 2021– Friday afternoon, after testimonies were given by investigating officer Trooper Jillian Yeager with the West Virginia State Police and Detective Corporal Nick Walters with the Beckley City Police Department, the victim in the Richard Chambers trial took the stand.
Prior to the victim’s entrance, Trooper Yeager detailed her investigation’s findings. Yeager was responsible for speaking with the victim and her mother, investigating Chambers’ property and gathering evidence. Yeager collected the pieces of evidence- the TENS unit, blanket and bolt container- that were highlighted in Thursday’s testimonies.
During his testimony, Detective Corporal Nick Walters detailed how, through a digital recovery effort using advanced technology, he was able to extract thumbnail imagines from the video the victim took of herself.
The victim’s mother found the video on the victim’s phone in November of 2018 and immediately deleted it in a panic. This video became the catalyst for the victim’s confession of the sexual abuse and assault she said to have been suffering for three years at the hand of Chambers.
Walters testified that he was never able to recover the full video but was able to extract several still images.
When it came time for the victim to take the stand, Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick ruled that those viewing the trial in the gallery step out.
As the victim is a “child of tender age,” Kirkpatrick said he did not want to create more trauma for the young child as she was asked to recount instances of her abuse.
“It is in the best interest of the child and is in an effort to reduce possible harm and damage in lieu of what she is expected to testify about,” Kirkpatrick said.
The trial will continue Monday morning in Judge Kirkpatrick’s courtroom.
BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – The second day of testimonies in the trial of Richard Chambers has closed.
Earlier in the day on Thursday, the state called Amanda Pritt, an investigator with prisons and jails throughout West Virginia, and John Frisby, an employee of the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, to the stand.
Both Pritt and Frisby’s testimony focused on the recording and monitoring of inmate’s phone calls from Southern Regional Jail (SRJ).
In her testimony, Pritt established that she investigates inmate’s phone calls, which are recorded through a third-party contractor, Global Tel Link (GTL).
Frisby, who is assigned to the Fusion Center in Charleston, was responsible for providing the Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney’s office with a phone call from Richard Chambers while at SRJ.
Because the phone calls belong to GTL’s server, Calvert Stone represented the company on Thursday during his testimony, which detailed how the calls are maintained, where the server is located and the many fail-safes the company has to ensure that the calls are not tampered with.
The testimonies of Pritt, Frisby and Stone led up to Thursday afternoon when Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Hatfield played the jury a phone call from Chambers to his wife.
Dr. Joan Phillips also took the stand on Thursday. Dr. Philips conducted the victim’s evaluation at CAMC Women’s and Children’s.
Dr. Phillips informed the jury of her findings and gave her opinion on the tests she took regarding sexual abuse and sexual assault victims.
In her testimony, Dr. Phillips revealed that 95 to 98 percent of the time someone who has been the victim of sexual abuse will yield a normal examination. She explained how this is possible, stating that it depends on the time that has passed since the assault and the healing properties of the human body.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Friday morning. Trooper Jillian Yeager with the West Virginia State Police, the officer who investigated the case, is expected to be one of the day’s first witnesses.
Follow Lootpress for day-to-day coverage and updates of the trial.
BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS): 10 a.m., July 29, 2021– The trial of a Ghent man charged with first-degree sexual assault continued on Thursday, July 29, 2021.
The man, Richard Lee Chambers, Jr., was arrested in December 2018 and charged in a 21-count indictment. Charges included first-degree sexual assault, incest, first-degree sexual abuse and sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person of trust. He is facing in excess of 200 years’ incarceration.
The state’s first witness of the morning was Hannah Foreman, a forensic scientist with the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory. Foreman was responsible for testing biological material found on multiple pieces of evidence after David Miller- an employee of the West Virginia State Polie Forensics Laboratory, who testified Wednesday afternoon-processed those items during his investigation.
After Miller identified the presence of biological material on the items, Foreman tested the samples to determine if a match for the DNA could be determined.
The first item of evidence brought into question on Thursday was a blanket. In his investigation, Miller found skin cells and sperm cells on the blanket. It was determined that the sperm cells came from a single individual.
After giving an in-depth description to the court on how she tests biological material, Foreman revealed that the skins cells and the semen found on the blanket matched the DNA profile of Richard Chambers.
Foreman testified that if she were to gather a group of random people, the probability of finding another DNA profile that would match the cells found on the blanket is one in approximately 200 octillion for Caucasians.
To put that large number into perspective, Foreman revealed that this is the current world’s population time a quintillion (the number one with 18 zeros after it).
The next two pieces of evidence brought into question were the adhesive pads of a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit and a bolt container.
During her testimony, Foreman directly read from her report notes which stated the biological evidence found on the items were partial and low level, making them unsuitable for examination.
When questioned by Chief Public Defender for Raleigh County Stacy Fragile, Foreman revealed that her lab has a protocol in place that mandates if any DNA is not of a certain quality the forensic scientist will not venture to make any conclusions about that material.
With that being said, Foreman stated that she could not determine that the DNA found on the TENS unit or the bolt container belonged to Chambers or the victim, but she also could not determine that the DNA did not belong to either individual.
No sperm cells were found on the TENS unit or bolt container, according to Miller’s findings.
Follow Lootpress for day-by-day coverage and updates of the trial.
BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTRPESS) – The afternoon portion of the first day of Richard Chamber’s trial on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, yielded marked evidence and more witnesses.
Wednesday afternoon, the prosecution marked 56 exhibits and is waiting for those pieces of evidence to be identified.
The state also called a second witness to the stand: David Miller with the West Virginia State Police Forensic Laboratory. On Wednesday, Miller detailed his role in the case’s investigation.
Miller was responsible for identifying DNA in bodily fluids found on various pieces of evidence and creating slides of those fluids, which he then sent off for DNA testing.
Chamber’s trial will resume in camera in Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick’s courtroom at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 29, 2021. The jury will join the courtroom at 10 a.m.
It is anticipated that Hannah Foreman, an employee of the West Virginia’s Forensic Laboratory, will be the day’s first witness.
BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS): 9 a.m., July 28, 2021 – The trial of Richard Lee Chambers Jr. is underway. Wednesday morning, both the state and the defense questioned the first witness after making opening statements.
During opening statements, Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Hatfield informed the jury what to expect from the state throughout the trial, such as upcoming witnesses and evidence.
Chambers was arrested in December of 2018 and charged in a 21-count indictment. Charges included first-degree sexual assault, incest, first-degree sexual abuse and sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person of trust. He is facing in excess of 200 years incarceration.
Hatfield began by telling the jury that from January of 2014 to December of 2018, Chambers allegedly engaged in a longstanding and incestuous sexual abuse and sexual assault of his step-granddaughter. Hatfield said this abuse occurred from the time the child was four until she was seven years old. She is now 10 years old.
Chambers lived in a separate house on the same piece of property in Ghent as the victim and her biological parents. The victim’s father worked night shifts, and in 2017, her mother was battling a major illness, leaving the victim to frequent Chamber’s house alone. The victim’s mother later said that her daughter was spending an increased amount of time with Chambers while she was recovering from her illness.
According to Hatfield, the victim did not disclose the abuse until November of 2018, when her mother found a video on the victim’s phone of her touching herself. The victim’s mother also discovered two images: one of Chambers sitting shirtless and one of a close-up picture of his nipple.
As that evening unfolded, the victim told her grandmother, her mother and her father that Chambers had been pulling his pants down and making her touch him.
Called by the state as the first witness, The victim’s mothersaid that after finding the video, she called the RAINN sexual assault hotline, Child Protective Services, and the West Virginia State Police. The family immediately moved out of their home and went to live in a family member’s vacant home in Beaver.
During her testimony, the mother stated that while she wasn’t sure at first if her daughter was telling the truth, she immediately suspected Chambers when she saw the video and images. She revealed that her daughter had been lying frequently during the six months prior to making the claim that Chambers had been assaulting her. The victim’s mother said she believed what her daughter was saying after a forensic interview was conducted.
“I have never experienced that feeling in my life,” the mother said. “I’ve been angry before; I’ve been sad, but never all that emotion together.”
In his opening statements, Hatfield mentioned that the forensic interview, which will be introduced during the trial, will highlight the level of inappropriate sexual knowledge the victim had for a child of seven. Additionally, Hatfield said therapists would detail the broad spectrum of mental health issues the victim developed as a result of her abuse- issues that led to anxiety, depression, trust issues, self-harming behavior and suicidal ideations.
On Wednesday, Chief Public Defendant for Raleigh County Stacy Fragile’s biggest focus when cross-examining the victim’s mother was that the fact that the victim has been caught telling serious lies on multiple occasions.
After spending the majority of her opening statements telling the jury that the defense has no proof that Chambers is guilty, Fragile said that the victim’s story changes every time she tells it.
During Fragile’s cross-examination she elicited testimony concerning a Child Protective Services investigation in which the child lied to investigators, instances where the child lied to counselors, and exaggerated medical conditions. Fragile then turned to the relationship between the victim’s mother and father, which the mother testified there had been issues.
Follow Lootpress for day-by-day coverage and updates of the trial.
BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – 3 p.m. July 27, 2021: According to the office of Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick, the jury is still being selected for the trial of Richard Lee Chambers Jr.
Chambers, who was arrested in Dec. of 2018, was charged with several counts of sexual abuse of a minor.
Chambers’ trial was slated to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, but a lengthy selection process pushed opening statements to Tuesday afternoon. As of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, the jury selection process was still underway.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Hatfield told Lootpress that he anticipates the trial to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Judge Kirkpatrick’s courtroom.
Follow Lootpress as this story develops.
BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – On Monday, the jury selection process in Richard Lee Chambers Jr.’s trial began. The process will be continued into Tuesday, July 27, 2021, and the trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon.
Chambers was charged in a 21-count indictment. Charges included first-degree sexual assault, sexual abuse of a parent, guardian or custodian and incest.
According to Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Hatfield, Chambers sexually assaulted his step-granddaughter for three years, starting when the child was four years old. She is now 10 years old.
He is facing in excess of 200 years incarceration.
Judge H. L. Kirkpatrick will be presiding over the trial, which is expected to last all week.
Stay with Lootpress as this story develops.